Research Spotlight: Hemangiosarcoma


What is Hemangiosarcoma?

  • An aggressive and common cancer in dogs.
  • While the cause of the disease is unknown, certain breeds (Golden Retriever, Portuguese Water Dog, Boxer, German Shepherd Dog) are considered to be high-risk. This suggests that heritable traits, while not singularly responsible, may contribute to the disease.
  • Hemangiosarcoma can develop in any tissue or organ, but the most common primary sites for these tumors include spleen, right atrium of the heart, and the skin.

Why study it?

  • While cutaneous masses (affecting the skin) are often treatable by tumor excision, tumors affecting internal organs are associated with poorer prognosis and are almost always incurable.
  • Hemangiosarcoma is often called the “silent killer” because the tumors are often not detected until the later stages of the disease, and even dogs harboring large tumors may show no clinical signs or evidence that they have a life threatening disease.
  • Because treatments have not improved the overall survival times for dogs with this disease, tremendous efforts are being made through research funded by the CHF and its donors to gain a better understanding of the biology and progression of this disease with the goal to design new and effective approaches to treatment.


An ongoing collaborative research study funded by CHF and our donors (1889-G) has led to a recent report showing promising results for a new treatment for dogs with Hemangiosarcoma. The treatment shows potential implications for human sarcoma treatments as well. 

CHF-Funded Study:

02217: A Novel Mechanism to Regulate the Growth of Canine Hemangiosarcoma
Principal Investigator: Dr. Erin B. Dickerson, PhD; University of Minnesota
Total Grant Amount: $86,206.00; Grant Period: 1/1/2016 - 12/31/2017

What is the focus of this study?

  • Recent evidence suggests that hemangiosarcoma cells rely on the metabolism of lipids or fatty acids to supply energy for tissue invasion or continued tumor growth.
  • To obtain these lipids, hemangiosarcomas may take over the metabolic machinery of neighboring cells, forcing them to produce nutrients for the tumor cells to help them proliferate and grow.

How will this study help dogs?

  • This study will verify that tumor cells rely on lipid metabolism for growth, and determine if tumor cells alter the metabolism of fat cells to obtain cellular nutrients and accelerate tumor cell lipid metabolism.
  • Identifying and exploiting a novel mechanism that may disrupt this process by inhibiting the interactions between tumor cells and cells in the tumor environment will speed clinical investigations, and ultimately lead to improved outcomes for dogs with this devastating disease.

Learn more about canine cancer research and access free educational resources.

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